Italy before the Constitutional Referendum: „I do not see any Armageddon Scenario“

On Sunday, Italy will vote on the largest constitutional reform in recent history. Francesco Clementi, constitutional lawyer from the University of Perugia and one of the staunchest supporters of the reform, answers our questions about what will happen in case of a NO or a YES victory.

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Blowin’ against the Wind: the Future of EU trade Policy

U.S. President-elect Trump has announced his intention to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. In the EU too the wind seems to be blowing in a similar direction. There appears to be a widespread and growing anti-free-trade sentiment in some parts of the population. Should the EU, at this moment in time, continue to pursue a free trade agenda? If so, does the EU have the means to do that effectively?

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Scotland, Catalonia and the Constitutional Taboo of Secession

The UK constitution does not allow Scotland to unilaterally secede in the case of Brexit – in that respect its situation is not unlike Catalonia’s. Given the political nature of the UK uncodified constitution, it is almost unthinkable that a similar judicialisation of politics will occur in the UK as it did in Spain. However, unless Westminster takes seriously into account the demands of the devolved administrations in the Brexit negotiations, there is a real danger that a serious constitutional stalemate will occur.

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Who Speaks in the Name of the People?  

The practice of using a referendum to justify the power of the executive has been used and abused throughout history. Napoleon who ruled like a plebiscitarian monarch can serve as the best counter example for contemporary liberal democratic regimes. All the institutions of the government, the executive, the parliament and the judiciary speak in the name of the people in our conception of the western democratic constitutionalism. It is only thanks to the checks and balances that the separation of powers provides in a conception of collaborative constitutionalism that we can avoid practices of misusing references to a supposed democratic legitimacy in view of derailing the operations of the government in a direction that is entirely out of control of democracy itself.

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Das gescheiterte Referendum zum Friedensvertrag in Kolumbien taugt nicht zur Delegitimierung von Volksabstimmungen

Brexit in UK, Ukraine-Abkommen in den Niederlanden, Flüchtlinge in Ungarn: Volksabstimmungen scheinen in letzter Zeit nichts als schlechte Nachrichten zu produzieren. Jetzt kommt das gescheiterte Friedens-Referendum in Kolumbien dazu. Ist das ein Grund, Volksabstimmungen generell zu misstrauen? Nicht, wenn man genauer hinschaut.

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The Invalid Anti-Migrant Referendum in Hungary

After an unprecedented and partially illegal attempt to bring Hungarian voters in line against the EU refugee quota, the referendum launched by the government is invalid, as only around 40 percent turned out to vote. This was an own goal made by the Orbán government, which after overthrowing its predecessor as a result of a popular referendum made it more difficult to initiate a valid referendum.

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Das Brexit-Referendum: Sieg für die Demokratie?

War das Referendum doch zumindest ein Sieg für die Demokratie? Im Ergebnis wohl nicht. Demokratietheoretisch darf die Kritik freilich nicht beim Ergebnis, sondern bei der Entscheidung für das Referendum ansetzen: War die Austrittsfrage eine für ein Referendum geeignete Frage, oder hätte diese dem Parlament vorbehalten sein müssen? Vieles spricht hier für Letzteres.

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Calling Europe into Question: the British and the Greek referenda

On this day last year, Greeks woke up facing a referendum result that very few had expected. Almost a year later, on the 24th of June 2016, British and other Europeans woke up overwhelmingly surprised by the ‘Leave’ vote. Despite their significant differences, the Greek and the British referenda have some important things in common. Reading them together might have something to teach us about referenda on the EU—especially now that more people seem to be asking for one in their own country.

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